Like Patti Smith’s Horses, Sound & Fury confounded me. I put the album on repeat, and each listen only heightened my confusion and fascination. Was this My Bloody Valentine reborn as a southern rock band? Was it ZZ Top making the electroclash album it should never, ever record? In the end, it’s just Sturgill Simpson applying his work ethic to fucking with our minds.
Cocco, Star Shank
I don’t think I’ve heard Cocco scream with the kind of abandon she does on this album. It’s almost uncharacteristic now that she’s let a lot more sunshine into her music.
I didn’t realize how much I missed BBMAK till they announced their reunion, and this album does not disappoint.
The Replacements, Dead Man’s Pop
Don’t Tell a Soul was the first Replacements album I ever bought, so I find the over-produced, slick sound comforting. That said, I really dig this original mix by Matt Wallace. Thing is, it would have totally tanked in 1989. Maybe in 1993, it would have made more sense. But not in 1989.
Kim Gordon, No Home Record
Do we really need to pay attention to any other former member of Sonic Youth?
Ali Wong, Baby Cobra
I signed up for Netflix to watch the Sound & Fury anime. I might keep my subscription to watch Baby Cobra.
Kraftwerk, Trans-Europe Express
Kraftwerk strikes me as a band I ought to like, but so far, this album is the only one to connect.
Prince, Dirty Mind
I didn’t think I would like anything Prince recorded before 1999. I think I rather like this more than 1999.
I had high but cautious hope for 57th and 9th. That will learn me.
Shiina Ringo, Sandokushi, May 27
This album adds six new tracks to the seven already released in various downloads and singles. Does anyone else get the sense Ringo-chan is phoning it in? I would think a 20-year anniversary would warrant a big reissue campaign in addition to a new album.
Eluvium, Piano Works, May 31
The deluxe edition vinyl release of this new album of piano works includes a sheet music book of Eluvium’s keyboard works.
Madonna, Madame X, June 14
Rebel Heart turned out better than I expected, but that seems to be the exception than the rule in recent years.
Prince, Originals, June 21
This compilation brings together demos of songs Prince wrote for other singers. I wonder if in the distant future we’ll hear The Family with Prince’s vocals.
Sigur Rós, Ágætis byrjun (Deluxe Edition), June 21
I like Sigur Rós, and Ágætis byrjun is a fine album. I’m not sure I love it enough for 4-CDs or 7-LPs.
James Blake, Assume Form, May 31
I hesitated on getting James Blake’s latest album till I found an unopened copy at the thrift store for $3. It’s turned out to be one of the better releases of 2019.
The site will take its usual January break starting next week, so this entry is my last chance to point out some upcoming releases.
Jeremy Denk, c.1300-c.2000, Feb. 8
I’ll be seeing Jeremy Denk in concert in a few weeks, but he won’t be performing the sprawling program of this two-disc set spanning seven centuries of music.
Mindy Smith, One Moment More, Jan. 29
Mindy Smith is so far the only country music singer whose voice reminds me of Harriet Wheeler of the Sundays.
Prince, Musicology, Feb. 8 Prince, 3121, Feb. 8
Musicology was heralded as a return to form, but I found it less interesting than 3121. But even 3121 was less interesting than The Gold Experience, which I would consider getting on vinyl. But really, when is the Love Symbol album getting reissued?
This past year, I started keeping a log of purchases every week, and a cursory look at those entries show how much catalog has taken over my collection.
Like last year, many of these purchases come from Lifelong Thrift Store or Goodwill. A month-long CD sale at Easy Street Records contributed quite a number of titles. I’ve whittled down nearly 600 purchases to a list of Favorite 10.
Patti Smith, Horses: The first time I played this album, I didn’t get it. So I played a few more times and became fascinated with it on each play.
Boris, Pink: I remember other Japanese indie rock fans fawning over this album, and it’s taken me 12 years to get around to finding out why.
David Bowie, Scary Monsters: At first I was going to be boring and choose Ziggy Stardust or Let’s Dance as my favorite Bowie album, but this one takes it, hands down.
Bruce Springsteen, Nebraska: I like the story of how this album came about just as much as I like the end result.
Fugazi, The Argument: Fugazi didn’t make a bad album, just less good ones. The Argument would probably be Fugazi’s best album if 13 Songs and Repeater weren’t in the way.
Joni Mitchell, Court and Spark: I went on a Joni Mitchell binge this year, and this album is the only one I really like. Sorry, Blue.
Roxy Music, Avalon: Quite the dapper album.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Are You Experienced: It’s weird how familiar this album feels after years of hearing covers by Kronos Quartet, Sting and Emmylou Harris.
The Pogues, Rum Sodomy and the Lash: I didn’t accommodate the Pogues during my Celtic phase of the mid-90s because they were more rock than Celtic.
Wire, Pink Flag: I’m also fond of the self-titled Killing Joke album.
The last half of the year was stuffed with reissues that were of particular interest for me.
Art of Noise, In No Sense? Nonsense! (Deluxe Edition):(Who’s Afraid Of …?) The Art of Noise! may have all the hits, but the post-ZTT albums from 1986 and 1987 are the band’s creative peak.
Camouflage, Voices and Images (30th Anniversary Edition): This reissue received a limited run in Germany, so pick it up before they’re all gone.
Johnny Hates Jazz, Turn Back the Clock (30th Anniversary Edition): The acoustic re-recording of this album works quite well, given how reliant the original was on MIDI.
Kate Bush, Remastered Part I and Remastered Part II: It’s apparent on which side Kate takes in the loudness wars, because these remasters do nothing with the volume. In the case of The Red Shoes, it’s actually pulled back. But they sound great, particularly Part I.
Julee Cruise, The Voice of Love: I so dug Floating Into the Night that I didn’t think it could be topped. It wasn’t, because The Voice of Love is a different beast.
Sasagawa Miwa, Houjou -BEST 03-18-: I passed on the two most recent Sasagawa Miwa albums, but this retrospective does a good job of highlighting the best parts of her output.
Frank Ocean, Endless: This album was better than Blonde.
Prince, Piano and a Microphone 1983: How about a vinyl reissue of the Love Symbol album?